Lessons to learn in virtual lifestyling

Last month the Chancellor Alistair Darling claimed our debt-ridden government would save £360m per year by running “virtual court cases” in which trials are conducted entirely online.

Could this be a rare example of Mr Darling doing something brilliantly innovative in an effort to reduce our crippling budget deficit?
The answer is no.

The truth is it’s inevitable that increasing elements of British life will become virtual – and it’s been happening quietly for a while. Mr Darling’s “big idea” is merely an evolution of a trend that’s been growing at the nation’s grass roots level for several years now.

We recently conducted a survey of our 45,000 small business users. One of the key findings was that businesses can save an average of 23% of their total staff costs by employing remote ad hoc freelancers. In addition to these savings, virtual businesses eliminate other major overheads including office infrastructure and transportation costs. And other than cost savings, reducing transportation benefits the environment.

At a time when every penny of public money is scrutinised, and every penny counts, it’s little wonder Mr Darling sees value in adopting virtual working practices.

The question is, where will this take us? In 2020, to what degree will all our lives be run online? Our research suggests the financial benefits of operating virtually will mean more businesses adopting the virtual model. But what about the public sector? Will school kids be taught online, or doctors make diagnoses and prescribe medication following a virtual consultation?

I don’t think these scenarios are as outlandish as they sound. Britain is going virtual. Mr Darling just made it official.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou
Founder & CEO
PeoplePerHour.com

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